Department Works to Improve Acquisition Process
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2007 Defense Department officials work every day to ensure service requirements and resources are integrated, and to improve the overall acquisition process, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani addressed a crowd of active and retired servicemembers, defense industry officials and other civilian professionals at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. Giambastiani summarized the different groups with which he works on acquisition, and the initiatives they’re pursuing.
“Our business within the Pentagon is complex, and it’s a highly interrelated business,” Giambastiani said. “You have to overcome a variety of stovepipes erected in what I’ll call the requirements world, in the acquisition world, and also within the resourcing and budget world.”
Giambastiani said he is one of the only leaders who has a say in all three communities – requirements, acquisition and resourcing. This gives him an opportunity to work to integrate all three areas, making the entire process run more smoothly, he said.
Giambastiani serves as the chairman of the joint requirements oversight council, which by law is made up of him and the four service vice chiefs. However, to better inform the council’s debates and to increase trust and confidence, the group has opened its discussions and debates to combatant commanders, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, defense agencies, other federal agencies and other cabinet departments, he said.
Another improvement is that the joint requirements oversight council now considers cost risk at the beginning of the acquisition process, rather than letting the services deal with the results of their decisions later, Giambastiani said. This includes assessing programs’ technology readiness levels, which were developed by NASA and help identify if a program is ready for implementation, he said.
If programs project large cost growths, the council will revisit its requirements and make necessary changes, Giambastiani said. This happened in the case of the Joint Tactical Radio Program and the National Polar Orbiting Operational Environment Satellite System, a multi-department weather system, he noted.
The council also has a joint rapid acquisition cell, which meets urgent needs with off-the-shelf products, Giambastiani said. This cell works to supply the services with things like the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles that are in heavy demand from the Army and Marine Corps in Iraq.
“Let’s face it, we’re in a war, so responding to urgent combatant commanders … is exceptionally important,” he said.
The defense acquisition board, which Giambastiani co-chairs with Kenneth Krieg, undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics, works to ensure proper execution of each individual acquisition program, Giambastiani said. When the board reviews programs, it looks at differences in cost estimation between DoD and industry groups, funding stability, and the gradual escalation of capability a program delivers, he said.
“We work closely to align the acquisitions, requirements and resource communities at the individual program level,” he said.
Giambastiani is also co-chairman of the deputy’s advisory working group with Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense. This group, which meets at least twice a week, grew out of the senior oversight group for the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review and works to implement the strategic vector set by the QDR, he said.
“This group has been particularly key in resource decisions on a day-to-day basis,” Giambastiani said. “We do this every day; we don’t leave these decisions till the 11th hour.”
The business of acquisition, requirements and resources is complex, Giambastiani acknowledged, but fixing the problems in the system is vital for commanders on the ground, who want to ensure their troops have everything they need to accomplish the mission.
“Working acquisition issues as well as related resource and requirements issues is one of the key reasons, frankly, why I came back to Washington as the vice chairman,” Giambastiani said.